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Old 08-01-2015, 07:16   #16
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

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Do not try to conceal [a gun]. The down side is just too big.
Absolutely! I, too, am a complete right-wing radical when it comes to my Second Amendment rights. But when traveling outside the United States, I obey the laws of the countries that I am visiting.

And, no matter how clever you might THINK that you are, I guarantee you that the customs guys are well aware of, and have already seen, all of the super-secret hiding places that you imagine no one before you has ever thought of. The odds of getting caught, and spending the next decade in some third-world, rat-hole of a prison are far higher than the odds that you will ever need the gun.

(Never mind the fact that, if you ever do really need the gun, it will probably be no use to you, because it will take too long to retrieve it from its hiding place.)
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:43   #17
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pirate Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

And... if they do find anything.. your name will raise flags around the world for the rest of your life..
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:03   #18
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

How were slip rental prices in both panama and columbia, live-aboard specifically. I would need internet access at all times.[/QUOTE]

Panama is not an inexpensive country for a slip or mooring buoy. Anchoring is you best bet and you will only have to pay a fee for your dinghy. Columbia is better. If you are looking for real cheap places to get a slip try SE Alaska. You can get a whole year for what you pay for one month on a mooring buoy at the Balboa Yacht Club in Panama City.
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:21   #19
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

I have been to every country in Central America and Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic plus another 15 or so countries. The worst customs I have ever experience by far hands down rudest, and 50% of the time a very extensive search of everything I had was the USA. Everywhere else no porblems except for a light search in panama and an extra 10 dollar fee for being from the USA. But they were very nice about it. Never brought a boat to any of these countries.

I have never needed a gun in my life. I have and enjoy them but never needed one. A friend of mine who was a detective in a very dangerous city told me he only brings his weapon when it is absolutely required other wise locked in trunk. He said after 20 some odd years that he has always been better off talking his way out because as soon as you pull that weapon everything escalates to a gun fight. Situational awareness has allowed me to travel solo and with my wife to some very poor and dodgy places with zero problems. Relax and enjoy your travels.
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Old 08-01-2015, 09:29   #20
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

I have been sailing in the Caribbean for about seven years and have never had a customs agent board my boat. Sometimes they are grumpy and occasionally disagreeable - but I have never had problems with them boarding by boat, performing unreasonable searches or any acts of corruption. I think that the key is to dress appropriately, bath, be polite and follow their rules.
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Old 08-01-2015, 10:03   #21
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

Been to many Caribbean countries with no hassle. Once in Bahamas, days and miles from where we checked in, while at anchor I was boarded by a ragtag combination of defense force, police, and a plainclothes person of undetermined origin, and they did a very thorough search, including opening all our garbage bags, looking under mattresses, but no destructive searching. Apparently someone who thought us suspicious (I was running a 65' "T" boat research vessel at the time) had "dropped a dime" to report us. Another time - same boat, same location - while most of the ship's crew was ashore, and I was below, had a guy come tumbling down the stairs with a sub machine gun in hand, unannounced, for the same kind of inspection. Again, apparently someone thought us suspicious. Also been boarded a number of times between Florida and Bahamas by USCG, who were very professional and courteous. Never had anything stolen or damaged.
Earlier, cruising on my own sailboat, on entering Jamaica at Port Antonio, I was not searched, but declared a rifle, and on further questioning, acknowledged that we also had US honey aboard. Customs required that in their presence I build a lockable compartment for the rifle and the honey, since I didn't really have one before that. I built one in a couple of hours while they watched, and locked the rifle and that dangerous honey up, and they completed the check in and left.
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Old 08-01-2015, 10:15   #22
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

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blacj tiger -- colombia - cartagena - yes the ladies are incredibly attractive and while i have an admiral on board and all i can do is look, we had a brit freind who met many an attractive young lady -- the city is also ver safe as we were walking around at 0200 with no issues and of course the clubs and bars really get started at 2400.
the marina in cartagena is not attractive but the last we knew they were working on it - the water is probably the dirtest we have seen anywhere so you will need a bottom job just before you leave and the paint is excellent and reasonable.
as for internet the marina had it and it worked well. your other option is a dongle and you maybe quite surprised at the low cost.
panama depends on where you are. in the san blas there are no marinas so you anchor. internet is via dongle for the most part. but the san blas is one of those very special parts of the world. by the way it is so big that the cruisers morning net is on hf radio.
portobelo has no marina and internet is at capt jacks rest.
skip colon unless you want mugged by either the local bad guys on the city side or the marina on the other side. the marina is very very expensive.
in eastern panama is bocas del toro and there are a few marinas but the cruising and water are not even close to the san blas.
hope this helps -- oh get an ssb radio it helps.
I see you are in Hammament. I am in Licata and was planning to cut across to Hammament late April for haul out, bottom clean and antifoul. Also have a couple of fibreglass dings to repair and polish. Is Hammament a good destination for this. I heard food,booze and fuel are cheap.
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Old 08-01-2015, 14:34   #23
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

Surprisingly most countries don't have much trouble with guns on board if securely locked up under the control of only the Captain. See this link: Guns on Boats Plenty of web info on this. Some other countries require them to be surrendered upon clearing in and they are promptly returned upon clearing our. I have actual experience only with the Cayman Islands while on a delivery gig. They require that guns and ammo be turned in and held in their lockup. The Customs Officer didn't even board the boat, she just looked at our declaration and asked that weapons and ammo be brought ashore while she stood on the dock. We had three rifles, two shotguns, two pistols and hundreds of rounds of ammo. Was the owner a little paranoid? I had a Benelli 12ga right behind me on the bridge during night ops. We put everything in locked gun cases and lugged them to the Customs Office. Meanwhile the deckhands were running around counting every bottle of beer and wine. She kept telling them "just estimate, just estimate". Very nice people, very easy procedure, maybe to 45 minutes total. They returned everything to the boat (dock side at a marina on the other side of the island) within two hours of our notice to them that we wished to clear out. Mexico no go with guns, it's possible but to complicated and risk is too high something will not be quite right with the paperwork. No! Not in Mexico, never. Me, I'm not sure about guns on boats generally. Carrying a gun is a pain, even if legal, under best of circumstances.
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Old 09-01-2015, 05:58   #24
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

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How thorough are the searches by customs in the Caribbean countries? Lets include Venezuela, Columbia, and all the Latin American countries. Have any of you dealt with customs tearing up your boat and checking every nook and cranny they could find? Have you ever had anything valuable stolen by customs? For instance, if you were to open up a safe that contained silver coins, would they "confiscate it". I know there are a lot of bad apples, I just want to know which countries to avoid crooked authority figures. Probably all, but which are the worst. And what about guns? Have you ever "lost" a gun from customs?
Back in 1978, the only place we had problem was Grenada (Before the Cuban excursion). Custom officers took my shotgun -a small 410 witch I used later to hunt in Eiao -a deserted island of the Marquesas- & gave me hard time to give it back when I went up to the old British fort where it was stored. Also in Grenada, I was told, before going there, that if I didn't have a courtesy flag, better not to buy one elsewhere 'cause the custom officer's wife was making them & would sell one to us... But it was at a reasonable price & I didn't mind... Oups, I forgot another place: Margarita "Bella & Limpia" north of Venezuela, out of 3 sailboats traveling together, we were the only one to apply in Trinidad for a visa (Compulsory): when we arrived, we went to the custom office & had to pay again (Bribe?) & wait for hours before getting our paperwork done ! The other 2 sailboats were never checked, didn't pay & penny & sailed away happily while we toured the island, dirty as an African megalopolis I hope the Colombian cartels that invested heavily in hotel building in Margarita have since cleaned the island...
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Old 09-01-2015, 07:02   #25
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

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I see you are in Hammament. I am in Licata and was planning to cut across to Hammament late April for haul out, bottom clean and antifoul. Also have a couple of fibreglass dings to repair and polish. Is Hammament a good destination for this. I heard food,booze and fuel are cheap.

yes we are in hammamet for our 2nd year. and yes the food is great, plentiful and inexpensive. wine is made locally and some is award winning but all is good and inexpensive. fuel is probably the cheapest in the med if one measures it in terms of the number of superyachts that come down to fuel.

port yasmine is a modern well run marina. inexpensive if you want to winter over as we have done.

BUT the yard is not working althrough some boats are stll there. we have heard the yard went bankrupt and the powers to be are looking for a new tenant. So you may want to take a look at monastir or contact pot yasmine and ask them.

we will be here until may so if you stop by look us up.
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Old 09-01-2015, 22:00   #26
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

Carry a gun on the boat, check in with customs and turn over the gun and bullets, then when you check out and they return the gun with fewer bullets, hummmm..... did some one get shot with your gun? The bullestics will trace the gun too you ! Will you be charged with murder in the future? Man oh man what a cluster mess that will put you in. I guess a shotgun won't have rifeling in the barrell so ballestics will not be an easy frame but if left at the sceene of the crime, ouch again!
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Old 09-01-2015, 23:48   #27
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

Great!...Another thread morphing into a gun thread.
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Old 10-01-2015, 05:07   #28
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

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Carry a gun on the boat, check in with customs and turn over the gun and bullets, then when you check out and they return the gun with fewer bullets, hummmm..... did some one get shot with your gun? The bullestics will trace the gun too you ! Will you be charged with murder in the future? Man oh man what a cluster mess that will put you in. I guess a shotgun won't have rifeling in the barrell so ballestics will not be an easy frame but if left at the sceene of the crime, ouch again!
Have you actually had this happen?

I have cleared in/out of a number of countries aboard boats with guns amd have never experienced this nor heard of it happening.
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Old 10-01-2015, 06:33   #29
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

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Carry a gun on the boat, check in with customs and turn over the gun and bullets, then when you check out and they return the gun with fewer bullets, hummmm..... did some one get shot with your gun? The bullestics will trace the gun too you ! Will you be charged with murder in the future? Man oh man what a cluster mess that will put you in. I guess a shotgun won't have rifeling in the barrell so ballestics will not be an easy frame but if left at the sceene of the crime, ouch again!
Get a dated receipt when you hand them the gun & another one when they give it back to you... That should do
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Old 10-01-2015, 07:09   #30
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Re: Experience with Customs in the Caribbean

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Carry a gun on the boat, check in with customs and turn over the gun and bullets, then when you check out and they return the gun with fewer bullets, hummmm..... did some one get shot with your gun? The bullestics will trace the gun too you ! Will you be charged with murder in the future? Man oh man what a cluster mess that will put you in. I guess a shotgun won't have rifeling in the barrell so ballestics will not be an easy frame but if left at the sceene of the crime, ouch again!


you watch too many movies?
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